I read as much as I can these days to try and keep abreast of what is going on and today I stumbled across something very interesting that Peter Giuliano had written.
When I was with Aida in Salvador in January, we talked about her identifying really awesome coffees she came across as “Aida’s Selections”, and brand them as such. She would be acting like a wine negociant, finding great coffees and snatching them away from the mill before they are processed. We brainstormed on some “mill mark” type names that could cover certain coffees. Her favorite was “Los Luchadores”, a reference to the Lucha Libre wrestlers so popular in Latin America. We thought it would be perfect for a Pacamara.
Now this to me is interesting on a number of levels. With the recent discussions about Ken Davids, reviewing of espressos and other coffees – which is essentially a form of endorsement – this throws up a different possibility. There is a slow growing number of people gaining recognition for their work the other side of the roastery – and while some like Peter Giuliano and Geoff Watts are attached to one particular company there are others with growing profiles like Aida who could effect some sort of influence on to the consumer. To me this also suggests another possible role – the freelance traveller/cupper working through origins and essentially branding high quality lots with their mark that would then likely add a premium to the lot, paid by interested (likely micro-)roasters. Not quite the Man from Del Monte but I am sure you get the general idea. (I will be jealous if anyone does manage to pull this off!)
There is increasing pressure on the Specialty community to find unique, high quality lots and many simply do not have the resources to travel the globe shopping for coffees (certainly the fledgling roasteries). Direct relationships are undeniably desirable/preferable, for the most part anyway, and of course marks or brands like this are not a solution but if we are out to reward quality perhaps they are another weapon in the armoury.
I would be interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this and its potential implications.